When Comedy Is Your Best Source For News

It's well known that, as TV News watchers go, the viewers of the Daily Show are the best informed audience.[1] But that doesn't necessarily mean those folks get their news from Comedy Central. More than likely, they read their news somewhere. Because if TV is your only source, you are bound to be wrong. 

Also, the news on Comedy Central is sometimes just as wrong as Fox. For instance, Jon Stewart loves to make jokes about how, as a country, we owe so much money to the Chinese. Isn't it funny that they could bankrupt us by calling the debt? Isn't the word trillion funny? It would be (the way  Jon Stewart does it) except the set-up is a fundamental misunderstanding, not only of debt, but also the economic relationship between our to countries. The latter is actually one of the things Niall Ferguson, famous wrong person, gets right. China can't "call our debt" without destroying their own currency, and the fact that they own a bunch of T Bills just means they have invested in our success. So we've got that going for us, which is nice, because our private sector has invested a lot in China. Krugman sorts it all out here and here.

Jon Stewart still hasn't responded to my angry email, so Comedy Central is probably going to keep getting debt and China wrong. Still, the Daily Show is still an island of sanity in the vast wasteland of TV News.

Meanwhile, The Onion, America's Finest News Source, gets Syria exactly right

Target Of Future Drone Attack Urges American Intervention In Syria

DAMASCUS—The target of a future U.S. drone strike aimed at taking out anti-American extremists strongly urged swift U.S. military intervention in Syria, sources confirmed Thursday. “President Obama and American forces must step in and help us overthrow Assad,” said the radical Islamist who will be the object of what will one day be an intense and lengthy manhunt by the CIA and whose death will reportedly be hailed as a major strategic victory by counterterrorism officials. “There needs to be a new regime in Syria immediately.” At press time, a non-target of a future drone strike, currently indistinguishable from the target of one, was saying the same thing.

When Googling up the link to the Onion article I found out that somebody at the Christian Science Monitor noticed the same thing: No kidding: Read The Onion if you want to understand Syria.

1. Click the link to see the study authors try to claim that watching Fox News actually has the effect of making people stupider. The causal chain obviously goes the other direction: stupid people watch Fox News.